From Then to Now: Spring 2019 Fur Fashion Trends
Fur: Fashion, Necessity, or Both?
To understand the impact of fur fashion, it is essential to see how the fur trade has evolved through the years. People have been wearing fur for thousands of years. In the beginning, fur was never a fashion statement. It is the perfect choice for warmth in the coldest of climates. While there were no fur stores to purchase your fur items at this time, wearing furs was incredibly common. Hunting was the way to capture an animal. At that time, no part of the animal went unused. The meat was consumed, bones used for weapons, and of course, the pelt used for warm goods. From coats to shoes to hats, there is nothing like the snug feeling of fur. You wouldn’t find designer fur coats here, although there was some beautiful artistry in the garments they wore.
Fur Explodes in the 20th Century
In the mid-1900s, fur coats came to the forefront of fashion and the fur store was born. The war was over, and so was the depression. Our soldiers were coming home to their loved ones, and our women were ready to be housewives and mothers. Jobs were abundant, and money flowed like water. Dress shops started showing genuine fur vests, coats, hats, and other fashion accessories. You choose designer fur coats for style, warmth, and luxury. Every woman wanted one. Few could afford one. But that didn’t keep them from coveting them every time they walked by the window display.
Fur garments at the time were of extremely high quality. Furriers inspected pelts for color, well-furred skins, suppleness, and strength. The pride in which the furriers took in their garments was evident. Their products were fashioned by blending and matching skins, using more skins per garment, and reinforcing the seams during final construction.
Simply the Best
North American Fur Auctions has been traced back to the 1860s and is considered the largest fur auction house in North America and the second largest in the world. NAFA strives to offer the highest quality skins with the broadest selection of animals. They take the fur business very seriously and advocate the use of sustainable fur.
From Explosion to Revolution
In 1980 PETA was formed, and fur stores and furriers came under fire. Activists tried to put them out of business stating that furriers were using animals for feeding the vanity of the rich and famous. Designer fur coats and genuine fur vests were expensive to purchase and store properly. Animal breeding for fur was picketed and criticized for its contribution to the fur trade. What people don’t understand is that these breeders only breed non-endangered animals just as cattle farmers breed cattle for beef.
Economy Wins The Battle
You can read all kinds of pros and cons regarding the use of animals for fur garments. Statistics show that when the economy is thriving, fur sales improve. When there is a decline in disposable cash, fur sales decline. Looking back to the late 1980s designer fur coats had a banner year, followed in 1990 by an even better year. As soon as the economy started to decline in the early 90s, fur sales plummetted. Many farms, breeders, and furriers went out of business. Interestingly, the acts of protest by PETA did not play a role in the rise and decline of the fur industry. Nor did the discontinuation of fur from Gucci and Coach fashion houses.
The Birth of The Faux
Wearing fur was hard for those far from affording one in a fur store, but people still wanted the look and feel of fur. Hence, the birth of the faux fur generation. These garments looked similar to the real thing. The problem was they didn’t feel or act like a genuine fur coat. I think it’s safe to say that if you wore fur before, you would likely wear it again. Those who are against it will continue to wear the knock-offs. And as Marvin Gaye said, “Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.”
What We May Not Know About Fur Trading Regulations
In 1949 the International Fur Federation was formed. Their primary purpose was to protect animals from extinction. The IFF exists to support and represent the fur trade and its participants. It is illegal to catch and use endangered animals in the fur industry.
Furthermore, there are very stringent rules and regulations regarding the fur business, both domestically and internationally. Every country adheres to these strict rules for the good of the trade and the environment.
Fur Comes Back to the Runway
Fast forward to the 21st century. People have come to understand that farming, breeding, and growing animals for a single purpose is similar to chicken farmers, cattle farmers and, sheep farmers. These animals are raised to become sustenance. Protesters, although they don’t believe in the practice, should agree that it is the right of these farmers to follow their freedom of choice as well.
Pick a Fur, Any Fur
There are several types of fur used in genuine fur vests or coats, each with their unique characteristics. Those listed below are legal in the fur business and beautiful as designer fur coats, genuine fur vests, and other products. Fur stores are making a comeback and furriers are perceived as artists in their trade.
Let’s look at the different kinds of fur in designer fashion and its use in garments. These examples show only sustainable furs:
- Mink – Quality mink fur always has a lustrous sheen. The top of the coat is silky and equal in length while the underside of the fur is thicker, denser and paler in color. Mink has always been considered the fur of furs. Men and women love the beauty and quality of mink garments. Fur stores offer designer fur coats for the ladies and perhaps a genuine fur vest for him.
- Chinchilla – Chinchillas have a very thick coat of fur and are an excellent insulator against the elements. Breeders are trained not to stress or excite their animals. Anxiety causes a condition known as fur slip resulting in small patches of fur falling off and leaving a bare spot on the pelt. These spots can take months to regrow, so prevention is crucial to the success of a high-quality pelt. Chinchillas were originally a beautiful grey-blue color but currently bred black, grey, white, beige, and a combination of those colors. Those characteristics have given the design industry a modern twist.
- Asiatic Raccoon – Asiatic Raccoon fur is soft and thick with black tips. Black spans the shoulders and runs down the back. Fur color varies on the belly and the back. From brown to yellow-brown on the back and yellowish to tan on the underside. The raccoon makes for some interesting designs. Designers use the Asiatic Raccoon for garments and garment trims.
- Farm Raised Fox – Fox has a luxurious coat with long and fluffy fur; skin that is soft and supple. Fox farming in the US has waned as farmers elected to start mink ranches. Fox is still bred in Europe and hasn’t lost its popularity in the US. Red, silver, and platinum are the natural colors, red being the most inexpensive and plentiful color in garments. Silver and platinum run a close second.
Fur and Peer Pressure
Believe it or not, there are more designers using fur than ever before. Of the 354 designers in the 2017 autumn wear collections, 190 designers used fur. There are still high-end designers including Zac Posen, Norman Ambrose, Carolyn Rowan; and high-end stores such as Neiman-Marcus, Macy’s and hundreds of independent professional furriers and fur shops.
There has been little fur shown on the 2019 runways. Most Spring/Summer Fashion Week runway shows that feature fur is primarily in Europe and Asia. US designers and promoters embrace the use of faux furs on the runways this season.
Visiting some of the many Fashion Weeks around the globe, you’ll see more emphasis on environment and sustainability. Items such as designer fur coats and genuine fur vests are quite popular in countries such as Scandinavia and The Soviet Union. Fur stores carry these wardrobe pieces for fashion and warmth. These countries don’t just harvest furs for fashion’s sake.
Estonian Parliament recently voted down, for the second time in two years, banning keeping animals solely for fur production. Here are some statistics on European fur farms and their influence on fashion by country:
- United Kingdom: Parliament banned the use of fur for clothing in 2003. Government compensated fur farmers for their losses
- France: France is still a producer with approximately nine fur farms specializing in mink. The average export is 100,000 pelts annually.
- Spain: Surprisingly, 54 fur farms produce 750,000 pelts exclusively mink.
- Italy: A leader in fashion design boasts 20 fur farms processing 180,000 mink skins per year.
- Germany: With only 3 fur farms, Germany produces 100,000 mink pelts and is one of the few producers of chinchilla with 1500 items every year.
- Poland: One of the most diverse fur producing countries. Mink, fox, finnraccoon, and chinchilla are all raised at some of the 1144 fur ranches.
- Finland: With 914 fur farmers, they produce an astounding number of garments.
Fox is at the forefront with 2,530,000 pieces, followed by mink with 1,876,000, and Finnraccoon at 150,000.
Don’t Sacrifice Quality
One famous and talented furrier is Elpidio Lofredo in Italy. They, not only design and craft, they show you how to wear their pieces. For example, how to wear a genuine fur vest is exhibited on their web page. It’s not about the fur store; it’s about the beauty, quality, and style of fur and how it enhances any wardrobe.
Designer fur coats start with pelt selection. Matching color and quality of the fur and the skin is the foundation of a quality garment. The more pelts in a fur piece, the higher the quality.
Fashion still dictates the style and color of the garment and designs for 2019 show short fur jackets, dyed fur in bright colors;, long swingy coats and genuine fur vests.
Ask Me No Questions
If you put 100 people in a room and asked them all the same question, you would probably get 100 different answers. Anonymity would encourage most to answer truthfully. The survey, in this case, is: Would you include fur garments in your wardrobe? It doesn’t have to be a brand new designer fur coat. It can be a vintage item handed down from generation to generation. Although this is not newly farmed and processed fur, it is fur just the same.
Designers seem to agree that it is OK to use restyled vintage fur in their collections. The quality of the redesigned fur is a testament to the longevity of fur if stored and cared for properly. If you look at the faux fur industry, it’s the disposability and cost that makes it so popular. Yes, there are some fabulous looking faux products if you are looking to fill your closet with inexpensive look-alikes. Styles change from season to season, so these faux pieces are more practical for design conscious youth of today. It is the classic design and function of genuine fur that lives on.
Who’s Still Wearing Fur?
- Paris Fashion Week saw Olivia Palermo sporting a white designer fur coat.
- Kanye West spotted at the Givenchy fashion show during Paris Fashion Week.
- P Diddy, seen wearing a Whiskey Pink coat at Super Bowl 2018.
- Rick Ross in a mink coat at the 2018 Grammys.
- Cam Newton in silver fox.
All in all, fur is here to stay. No matter how many anti-fur groups protest, wearing fur is a belief and a commitment.